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Skate 2 and Afro Samurai - Widgets

Damn It These Are Dope

Mar 1, 2009

Slotmusic Player
Don't own an iPod, Zune or one of countless clones? Welcome to 2008, grandpa! Happily, for around the cost of a single CD, you can still enjoy digital music. This budget-priced MP3 player, powered by AAA batteries, allows neophytes to cop microSD cards packed with songs by Katy Perry, T-Pain and Jimmy Buffet (now there's a guaranteed sell-out festival lineup) for just $14.99. While the selection's tight, and an entry-level feature set is only moderately appealing, it's still a sound fit for closet technophobes. / $19.99

Lifebook U820
Everything's shrinking today: Budgets, carbon footprints, form factors, your third leg... For laptop owners though, that's a major plus, as evidenced by the debut of this miniscule 1.32 lb system, which operates on Windows and comes with built-in GPS functionality. An Intel Centrino Atom Z-series processor, 5.6-inch touchscreen, WiFi connectivity and 7.5 hours of battery life make it suitable for Web surfing, word processing, email composition and enjoying games. Mostly though, we just dig its potential as a conversation piece... / $1049.00 and up

We're all about in-dash entertainment, especially when you're talking 6.5-inch touchscreen display-enabled wonders like this puppy, which offers HD/satellite radio, iPod compatibility, DVD-R/RW playback, MP3/WMA audio and video, and integrated 3D GPS mapping features. Bluetooth hands-free calling is also part of the deal, as is the ability to scope out track, album, artist and playlist info without skipping a beat. Just one complaint: units don't come prepackaged with our favorite driving music: Michael Bolton's ageless Time, Love & Tenderness. / $1200

Homedock HD
You've crammed your iPod full of Hell Date re-runs, Queer Eye specials and Internet porn; finally, all that video is readily viewable on a big-screen HDTV. Just dock with the device, then connect to standard or hi-def sets via HDMI, S-Video or A/V cable, and voila-video is yours to enjoy on the living room set. Upscaling options enable footage to run at 720p or 1080i (read: slick-looking) resolution, with a bundled remote control offering further reason to stay glued to the couch. / $249.95

Rock Band Stage Kit
Give your next house party a boost with a combination strobe light and smoke machine designed to make Rock Band and Rock Band 2 performances that much sicker. (Or depressing, depending which side of twenty-five you fall on...) Simply fire up this bad boy to enjoy that authentic arena feel, with flashing colors and vapor clouds complementing guitar-, mic- and drum-thrashing sessions. Some-e.g. normal, well-adjusted folk-would call it excessive. We're just happy to feed our Peter Pan complex. / $79.99

Splitting the difference between macho, run-n-gun romp and grimy platform-hopper, the first steampunk (think grinding gears, postmodern cowboys and metal-masked weirdoes in fedoras) blaster letting you twirl off poles and vault through windowsills dazzles on paper. But while its alt-history Civil War backdrop and support for clambering up towering structures provide intriguing jump-off points, actual execution is way off-target. Blame a bland arsenal, informerical-quality voice-overs, loose handling, and repetitive, button-mashing firefights for shooting an otherwise promising concept in the foot. Yowch! / PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Skate 2
Tongue-kissing pavement via this wipeout-prone curb- and rail-grinding simulation's funky control scheme is an acquired taste, for certain. But its sick stunts, hero-abusing "Hall of Meat" challenges and options for rearranging picnic benches and makeshift ramps to construct custom, online-shareable shred-ready hotspots will have sk8rbois squealing with delight. Seamless leaps between solo/online play and concussion-baiting zooms down virtual metropolis San Vanelona's stunningly hi-res streets only lend it further credence as the first worthy heir to Tony Hawk's Vans-humping throne. / PS3, Xbox 360

Afro Samurai
Seriously-is there anything actor Samuel L. Jackson can't make funkier, just by adding his smack-talking presence? (OK, maybe having to make a 2 a.m. run to buy your wife tampons, but we digress.) Thankfully, the voice of the illest hip-hop karate kid since Bruce Leroy doesn't have to work hard in this blade-swinging, graphic novel-flavored action/adventure. Backed by an original soundtrack courtesy of Wu-Tang's RZA, capture the TV show's effortless cool by carving a bloody swath through the opposition. / PS3, Xbox 360

Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff
Sentimentality aside-yeah, we know it stole your gridiron virginity back in '89-this DS update of the NES/SNES classic hasn't aged as gracefully as surrounding memories. Wireless multiplayer features, special abilities and intuitive controls notwithstanding, drawbacks range from ultra-simplistic action to difficulties quickly cycling between receivers and trouble determining on-field position. Regardless, retro gamers won't mind, as its customizable teams and effortless approachability recall a kinder, gentler era, before Madden (both the game and human vacuum) came and bit everyone's behind. / DS

Street Fighter IV
Hitting harder than a flying kick to dragon punch combo, the one-on-one mixed martial arts legend returns, albeit now with 3D characters/backgrounds and a snappy watercolor aesthetic. Featuring old favorites Ken, Ryu, Chun Li, Blanka et al, the roster of special move-/Focus-counterattack-sporting hitters even includes newcomers like Mexican wrestler El Fuerte and saucy super-spy Crimson Viper. Not digging the game's back-to-basics approach? Hey, at least you needn't stack quarters for the privilege of getting your ass handed to you by a hyperactive 12 year-old. / PS3, Xbox 360



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